‘Maid’ lifts Stephanie Land out of poverty. He’s still worried about money

'Maid' lifts Stephanie Land out of poverty.  He's still worried about money


What do you do with the money you earn from a story written about you having nothing for many years?

As a single mother who cleans houses, Stephanie Land compiled a list of possible answers to this question and recorded them in her memoir, “Made.” His new book, “Class,” which arrives November 7, picks up where “Maid” left off, following her struggle to use food stamps to feed herself and her daughter while falling deeper into student loan debt. Remembers.

When “Maid” became a surprise best seller in 2019 and became a hit again netflix series In 2021, the world felt like it got richer.

A local nonprofit requested donations of $25,000 to $30,000. Friends asked for loans, big loans. One fan seemed surprised to see him sitting in first class – and not at all convinced.

The reactions were understandable, considering she was not that far removed from living in a homeless shelter with a child. But all she wanted was a house in her name — without black mold, roommates or an unpredictable landlord.

It was not easy to get it.

When you sell a book, you usually get your money in four separate payments over at least a few years. Agents take a cut of up to 15 percent, and you have to set aside money for taxes.

When Ms. Land, 45, got paid for her first book in 2016, she had about $50,000 in student loans. He also had credit card debt of approximately $16,000, which he promptly paid off.

Her two children were on state-subsidized health insurance, but her under-the-book earnings made them ineligible, so she needed to buy new insurance, which at one point was costing her family more than $30,000 a year. Fell. He spent $7,000 on a very used Subaru.

“I wasn’t able to make ends meet for many years,” she said. “And that includes mental health and our physical health.”

Therefore the money for down payment was less. Ms. Land married a veteran in 2019 who is eligible to receive disability payments through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but two late student-loan payments had made her ineligible for a VA home loan. He tried to move from Missoula, Mont., to Raleigh, N.C., in early 2020 and was seeking a mortgage of about $350,000.

But his book deal and the promise of future payments weren’t enough for him to qualify. “I couldn’t prove to them that I had a job,” she said.

Even he didn’t really believe he had done it. Given the standard contractual provision in the book industry, that a publisher may reject a finished manuscript, she said, “The book advance felt like some kind of weird loan.” “it was scary.”

Even a Netflix deal is no guarantee of riches. With an adaptation like Ms. Land’s book, you usually get a small amount when your agent sells the rights – this happened Many months after the book comes out and becomes a best seller – and even more so just when the cameras are rolling. But if the show doesn’t get made at all, there’s usually no more money coming your way — and production didn’t start until Ms. Land was trying to buy a house.

A long-term source of guaranteed income would also have been helpful in qualifying for a mortgage. Like many non-fiction writers, Ms. Land turned to speaking. Before agent fees, taxes, and any discounts or freebies for nonprofit clients, an author of his fame should be able to command $15,000 to $20,000 or more for a speaking engagement.

But this is also uncertain. Bookings could be sporadic, and her income dried up during the early months of the pandemic. Speakers may only have a shelf life of a few years before their book becomes outdated and the topic seems stale.

Sadly, the topic of poverty is always timely. However, the further Ms. Land gets from the lived experience of it, the more she worries that she will seem like an impostor. “I’m still struggling with job security,” she said. “My work depends on people finding me interesting, and I worry about people thinking I’m not authentic.”

There was no evidence of this when Ms. Land spoke to freshmen at the University of Delaware earlier this month. read his book, In the end the questions were reverent. “You ask me questions like I’m a white person or something,” she said, prompting laughter from the crowd.

In September, she politely declined to write a $30,000 check to the nonprofit, even though it had paid for a week of camp tuition for a dozen low-income families in her community. Friends who approached him for financial needs owed him $15,000 over time and he forgave them all. When she sits in first class, it is almost always because customers paid for her ticket.

And that house? She finally got it, when a miracle worker mortgage broker set up a deal for her in Missoula. The down payment was so low that mortgage insurance was necessary. To pay for all this he will have to live on the streets for years to come. (Ms. Land declined to comment on the terms of her second book contract.)

Inside the house, there is nothing that resembles the lavish homes she cleaned and described in “Made.” No hot tubs or deep fryers or lazy Susans with fancy salt and a variety of hot sauces.

Instead, there are about 45 houseplants and a kitchen filled with jam jars and Fiestaware plates in rainbow colors. There also live three dogs, who crawl all over everything and shed so much water that sometimes it becomes necessary to vacuum twice a day. Ms Bhumi and her husband Saaf; She cannot appoint someone to be on her hands and knees while she is walking. When she stays at hotels, she leaves $20 per night near the phone in gratitude.

Her children have their own rooms, which they have arranged as they wish.

“As a housecleaner, the thing that really impressed me was the kids’ bedrooms,” she said. He had space for his clothes. They had new clothes that weren’t from Goodwill, and a lot of them.

“This is what I wanted for my kids,” she said. “Everything else is just a bonus.”



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